Well, I have finally started the shopping process. I went to REI and got some dressy linen shirts (that keep you as cool as possible and look professional enough to teach in), some comfy capris, a really nice light rain jacket, a multi-tool, and a knife sharpener (I felt pretty badass buying the last 2 things:).
It was good to start shopping, but it made me realize a)just how much more I still have to research and buy, and b) how expensive it's all going to be! We spent almost $400 just on the stuff mentioned above! The main things I still need to get include a backpack, a small sleeping mat, a good quality knife, nice flashlight/headlamp, frying pan, garlic press, a small/light/cheap laptop, small speakers, some Chaco or Keen sandals, and some heat and culture appropriate skirts/pants/dresses. Not to mention all of the smaller things I have to get! It's a good thing I have three weeks off of work before I go. I'm headed to Chicago the weekend of June 13 to see some friends there and hopefully get a bunch more of my stuff- my friend Morgan works at an outdoor store there and will hopefully be able to get me a discount :)
I feel a bit behind some other volunteers in terms of shopping/packing, but I know it will work out somehow! Lots of the people in our group have connected through facebook and AIM, and I can't wait to meet everyone! All of them seem really nice, and we all share similar interests. As an RPCV told me, half of the Peace Corps experience is meeting these other Americans and learning how to work together in this new environment. I'm really looking forward to meeting in person these people who will undoubtebly become some of my best friends!
Monday, I met with a girl I had a class with a few years ago who did PC in Benin and is now getting her PhD in African Art/Culture (focus on Benin) from UofM. She was a teacher in the northern, muslim part of the country. She had a fabulous experience, and gave me lots of great pointers. In fact, she has gotten me interested in possibly trying to teach in the northern part of Benin. She gave me tons of great CDs of various Beninese and African artists to listen to! African music is so beautiful. She also told me that the PC Medical Unit in Benin is one of the best on the continent and has a great staff who bends over backwards for you- good to know! PC Benin is also supposed to have a great library- I'm looking forward to getting a lot of reading done while there!
In other news, I'm headed to NYC this weekend with my friend Mitch to say goodbye to some family I have there, visit Cam, and for Mitch to do a bit of apartment hunting there. I'm really looking forward to the trip! (But unfortunately it comes with some goodbyes that I am not looking forward to...)